Are you facing your mid-sixties and struggling with what you will do when you retire? Are you feeling fearful about how to think about yourself when you leave your current roles in the world? Are you feeling disconnected and unclear about how to find meaning in your life in this next phase? You are not alone and this can be a fearful time because we are aging as we are transitioning again…..
I’ve spoken to many of you, who like me, are in our early 60′. Many are not even using the word “retirement” because it feels like an ending, when it really is a beginning. Some of my friends are leaving their jobs of 40 years or so and heading into something else–moving into something they are passionate about. That doesn’t sound like retirement to me. It’s all about shifting gears to do something you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time or the gumption to do it until now. And women are often more flexible and able to listen to their call for what’s next. How do you do this?
Instead of allowing yourself to drop into a dark, lost place about losing who you are now, try this: This Sixties Transition is all about allowing your lost identities to come bursting out doing those things you love that you’ve never let yourself do until now. You get to rebirth yourself! This is a fabulous opportunity of personal growth and wellbeing if you can allow yourself to play with it. The key: ” You have to let something die in order for a new opening or rebirth to happen. ” (Brene Brown said this in her new book Rising Strong) Learning to grieve is letting go so that we can accept where we are and what the present has to offer us. But, this is not easy!!
Meet Carol at 64. She is a teacher and has been planning on leaving her job as a middle school math teacher for several years. She came to me to talk about her decisions about her “retirement” and how she might work with this loss of identity. Carol struggles in her sessions with me about how to make some extra money to stay in her home, since her husband died three years ago of prostate cancer. She can’t decide when to leave her job because it feels like “stepping off a precipice” into the unknown. Her approach to life is very structured and she is looking for a new structure to help her find her next steps such as another job or a way to keep her from being depressed in her house alone. She has been longing to be a grandmother, but her kids are still in their early 30’s and not ready to have kids yet. She is struggling with fear and anxiety that wakes her up in the night and won’t let her relax and enjoy where she is.
The biggest struggle for Carol is her fear. She has some real concerns and is really clear about what she needs to feel less fearful but she needs more support to learn how to work with this fear. Fear is common at every major transition. Whenever we find ourselves in a new and unfamiliar place, without a footing or loss of our sense of identity or clarity about what to do next, this is a transition and it creates fear. I find this is the major force that women face at the Sixties Transition. It comes up even more now because possibly women have put off their greatest desires all their lives to caretake others and the longings and desires of their hearts come bursting forth in a painful and big way. That lifelong fear of failure that they’ve been carrying around all their lives as women gets reignited at this time. ( More about this “fear” we all carry around and how it manifests inside us and how it comes up when we are trying to get bigger in my next blog. ) I believe that women in our culture are fed “Fear of Failure” as children by how we are treated as less important than men. I hope that the next generations of women coming forward will have more role models from 60’s women using tools to meet this fear head on and get past it.
Jane Fonda, great role model for my generation who is now in her 70’s, states about her aging process, “I had a vision, I wanted to give a cultural face to older women.” She went on to talk about how to grow old doing your passions that keeps you resilient. Now a philanthropist, with a foundation that is funding kids education in underprivileged areas of the country, she splits her time doing several things she loves: acting, modeling and philanthropy. You can see her on Netflix in a series called “Grace & Frankie”. I like this series because they are truly working with the issues that aging women are facing today. I like the way “Grace” who is played by Jane Fonda, is learning how to grow her heart and open up to more of what she can be in her 70’s having lost her husband of 30 years to be in a gay relationship with Frankie’s husband. She’s learning to let her feelings out more and face the truth of her life and accept who she is in a powerful and authentic way. “Frankie”, played by , is the antithesis of Grace in so many ways, and yet she is more accepting of Grace and her compassion is wearing off on Grace as they live together after their lives have been shaken by their divorces. How each of them deals with their fear is powerful. Grace drinks heavily and Frankie smokes pot. However, they do more than this numbing….they are learning to talk about their feelings more openly with each other and the more they do, the deeper they rebirth themselves.
Helping Carol work with her fears was the focus of our work together. Here’s the process: 1) Through mindfulness, build a compassion container with gratitude and kindness and self-soothing practices to help her face the fear, 2) Allowing her to name her fear, because in the naming comes the “taming” of it. This involves experiencing how it shows up in the body using breath, yoga and exercise and other bodywork can allow you to have a “felt sense” of how the fear shows up somatically, 3) Create a self-empowerment experience or events that allow you to practice feeling your strengths underneath the fear and helping them to break through. So, as we worked through these steps together, Carol was able to step out and sign up for a Nature-Based Empowerment Retreat which I was offering in my practice. She struggled on the river, navigating her kayak and was very afraid of the unbalancing of the small ripples and current. With support from our guides and myself, she was able to “eddy out” and rest and access her strength and confidence to get back out there. In other words, she process through some of her fear and could feel her ability to go forward.
This is what you can do too when you give yourself the practice and the support to learn how to face your fears. If this sounds like you, don’t miss this opportunity next month to navigate this life transition with support and tools and the grandeur of nature’s beauty and peacefulness.
Join my Rebirthing In Nature in group today! It is in Eagle, Co and runs July 14-17. Spaces are filling up quickly so register today! REGISTER HERE NOW